INFIMACS Becoming Ever More RELEVANT For Project-Based Industries. Part 1: Recent Developments




INFIMACS Becoming Ever More RELEVANT For Project-Based Industries

Part 1: Recent Developments
P.J. Jakovljevic - October 30, 2001

Event Summary 

On September 26, as a result of partnering with its build-to-order, discrete manufacturing and maintenance organization customers, Relevant Business Systems, (www.relevant.com) a privately held ERP vendor for small to medium discrete complex manufacturing companies, has enhanced its INFIMACS II ERP Business Planning module by providing all of the functions required to prepare forecasts for products, create master production schedules (MPS) and evaluate the impact of the MPS on company resources, using rough-cut capacity planning (RCCP). Several MPS runs may be executed and saved without impacting the rest of the database, allowing users to consider alternatives, review what-if impacts and select the most appropriate production plan.

According to the company, INFIMACS II Business Planning also provides a sophisticated resource requirements planning (RRP) tool. Manufacturing resources, such as parts, labor, machine time, cash flow and maintenance hours, can be identified and entered into the system. To check capacity constraints, INFIMACS II compares this resource plan with the production plan to illustrate the projected load that a given MPS will place on the organization. If this rough cut indicates that resources do not exist to meet the MPS being tested, the user may fine-tune the MPS to bring the available resources into balance with production demands.

Furthermore, production planning can incorporate multiple forecasts, such as marketing and sales, spares and statistical trends, to streamline the process of moving from department forecasts to an overall production forecast. For increased flexibility, demand forecasts can be entered manually or developed by the system based on the statistical analysis of a part's usage history. When developed statistically, the user can specify whether the forecast anticipates actual demand level by period or a set monthly rate. In either case, the user defines a review horizon and time increment.

This is the last of a slew of enhancements Relevant has introduced to its flagship INFIMACS (Integrated Financial & Manufacturing Control System) product in the period over the last 12 months.

Note:
This is Part One of a two-part note on developments at Relevant Business Systems. Part Two will discuss the Market Impact and make User Recommendations.

Recent Product Enhancements 

Unlike with most applications vendors, Relevant has not consolidated the product enhancements into a formal major product release schedule. Instead, as new functionality is added to the product, customers have immediate access to the upgrades. Some of more notable recent product enhancements are:

  • In-depth Estimating Management - Users can generate estimates for new or existing products, customize estimates for customers or prospects or for internal use only, convert estimates to orders and/or quotes, convert prospects to customers and extract data in various reports and queries.

  • AutoCAD parts and bills of materials (BOMs) transfer into the ERP creating the standard item master and BOM records within the INFIMACS database - The interface also allows AutoCAD 14 and AutoCAD 2000 users to input INFIMACS' information within AutoCAD drawings; users can also create a purchasing item master, validate all incoming data and generate messages in the error log, as the transfer process enforces strict quality control checks and balances.

  • Automatic generation of vendor request for quotations (RFQs) from requisitions/estimates for direct material, indirect material and service items - RFQs are then processed through a cycle that includes vendor selection, price approval and purchase order creation.

  • Increased customer dialogue by administering service calls - Users can add, maintain and track the status and severity of service requests made via phone, email, fax, web entry or any other means of contact; they can define service procedures, assign staff and manage workloads.

  • On-line documents management/control - Users can attach electronic documents in any standard format to records or menus in the ERP system; they can also add reference items to BOMs, attach objects to records or programs, and attach their own help items to INFIMACS fields and menus.

  • Serial number (tail) effectivity for the aircraft/aerospace industry - Within INFIMACS II, a table carries information on each serial or tail number for each item used, including the original date the serial or tail number was added, received or stocked, as well as item information, such as the original vendor lot number, inventory quantities, weighted average costs and the last inventory adjustment date.

  • Component tracking by illustrated parts list (IPL) for aircraft and related maintenance organizations - Advanced MRO module quickly pulls together the unique BOM (IPL) needed for any particular job, even though on-condition repairs cannot be determined until after a technician review specifies the required labor and material; users can maintain information generated about the returned item from the initial receipt of the part through quoting, repair, shipping and invoicing.

  • Returned items information from receipt to invoicing for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) organizations - Users can use advanced MRO module to track work orders, purchase orders, sales orders, inventory, approvals such as FAA airworthiness Form 8130, and costs by both project item and condition code; the module maintains a capabilities file by item number that automatically determines if the user is allowed to perform the work which needs to be done, assuring the shop only undertakes repairs on items for which it is certified.

Partnerships 

Concurrently with the above in-house product enhancements, Relevant has been forming partnerships with complementary solution providers, the most prominent been:

  • Interface to Abra Payroll System from Best Software

  • Interface to Best Software's FAS Fixed Asset Accounting System

  • Incorporation of WorkWise (a division of Timeline, Inc.) Business Alerts, so that customers and personnel can be automatically notified of important status events via email. Using WorkWise Business Alerts, INFIMACS II invisibly monitors data fields for pre-selected activities. Users simply select the events to trigger the email, who should be notified, and the text or data to be sent. The alerts feature tracks events, dates, status of purchase orders, sales orders, work orders, inventory quantities, financial due dates and aging dates. It flags critical operations, expedites receipts, rates vendor deliveries, notifies buyers when a Purchase Order is mailed or acknowledged, updates planners when components are allocated or issued, and alerts customers that products are being shipped. Proper personnel are notified of schedule progress, if payments are due, or milestones are met, prompting immediate action.

  • Partnership with Viquity to reduce entry barrier to e-commerce and provide the discrete industry with an integrated e-procurement solution. As a result, the Viquity INFIMACS II Adapter is envisioned to connect INFIMACS II ERP system to the Viquity Dynamic Commerce Network (DCN), Viquity's e-business platform for direct procurement transactions. The combined solution should allow purchase orders, demand forecasts, invoices, and other actionable documents to be exchanged in real-time between business partners through the Viquity DCN.

  • Interface to C/S Solutions' wInsight and C/S Glue export programs from INFIMACS II Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) - Users can directly export Earned Value data into wInsight to create reports, charts and graphs of WBS and Earned Value data; as government contractors working to meet DoD, DOE, FAA or DCMC requirements often use wInsight to create reports, it is regarded as the de facto government Earned Value reporting standard.

  • Partnership with SupplierMarket.com. As a result of, users are able to buy and sell built-to-order components, parts, and equipment seamlessly via their familiar INFIMACS purchasing and quotation screens. As an Internet marketplace for manufactured direct materials, SupplierMarket.com is envisioned to receive and process RFQ information via XML transmissions from the INFIMACS user and will then locate and match ideal trading partners.

Other Product Initiatives 

Last but not least, in order to attract many small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) that do not have the technological infrastructure, such as ERP systems, to electronically communicate and integrate with their customers and suppliers, the company has also introduced INFIMACS ADvantage Entry Level ERP system. INFIMACS ADvantage provides the immediate basic needs for up to 24 users at build-to-order (BTO), engineer-to-order (ETO), and contract manufacturers. It also offers a growth path for future upgrades and expansion to INFIMACS II, as, according to the company, large manufacturers using INFIMACS II rely on the same, basic functionalities in a core set of 12 modules over 80% of the time.

Another initiative aimed especially at smaller contract, ETO, and CTO manufacturers, as well as MRO shops, is Relevant Business Systems' new hosted, on-line iEnterpriseASP (Application Service Provider) that allows INFIMACS II ERP to be used on a pay-as-you-go basis. Leveraging Citrix Metaframe, the iEnterpriseASP full INFIMACS II ERP can be customized for manufacturers requiring special needs. The company hopes the lease-to-own option would be very attractive to customers that might want to bring the system in-house after the contract period.

This concludes Part One of a two-part Event Note. Part Two will discuss the Market Impact and make Users Recommendations.

 
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